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MPL rockin' this summer

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SUMMER FUN: Haven Maddox, 9, prepares to try out her Music Maker during the Music Makers event at the Marion Public Library on Tuesday. The Music Maker -- made from card stock, craft sticks, art foam, a rubber band and string -- makes the sound of a bee when whirled through the air.
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CRAFT TIME: Participants use stickers to decorate their Music Makers during the Music Makers event at the Marion Public Library on Tuesday.

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

If you stop by the children's section of Marion Public Library these days, you won't find librarians shushing kids.

This year's summer reading theme of “Libraries Rock!” has children learning about and making music through activities, books, stories and instrument demonstrations.

Haven Maddox, 9, was excited Tuesday afternoon to see a ukulele performance up close Tuesday at MPL's Lunch in the Courtyard, a weekly event for families in the summer.

Afterwards, Haven and her mother, Tammy Maddox, crafted “music makers,” designed to sound like a bee buzzing as they swing through the air, in the library's children's activity room. 

These events are just a few of the extensive offerings the library has planned for the six weeks of its annual summer reading program, including crafts, movies, book clubs, video games and more.

Librarians have been working especially hard to promote the program to adults this year, and the enrollment numbers have responded: over 330 adults have signed up for summer reading as of Tuesday afternoon, and Sheri Conover-Sharlow, reference librarian, expects that number to continue to grow.

Conover-Sharlow, who manages the adult summer reading program, said the enrollment has been increasing year after year. Last year, 296 adults enrolled, and the year before 270 did.

Part of the reason for the push has to do with promoting literacy for children. Kids model their behavior after their parents, so if they see their parents making a habit of reading, it rubs off on them, Conover-Sharlow said.

Families can also participate in the program together, since audiobooks and reading aloud can be counted toward both the child's and the adult's reading tally.

Tylanna Jones, head of children's use services, called this year's enrollment and participation “amazing.”

Summer reading is just a week in, and already over 400 children and 114 teens have signed up for the program. The program runs from June 4 to July 14.

Jones said a showing of "Black Panther" at the library last Wednesday drew 17 teens, the most they've ever had for a teen-specific event at the library, and Jones said they could hardly fit the audience in the room for the family magic show last Tuesday.

This year's theme has been a good opportunity for the library to introduce patrons to different parts of the collection that they might not be familiar with, Conover-Sharlow said.

Participants can earn points for listening to music, for example, this year.

Jones said the music theme, which is a nationwide summer reading theme for public libraries, is in keeping with an updated image of libraries today.

“Libraries are changing and evolving. We still want to have some quiet places but it doesn't always have to be hush-hush,” Jones said.

Another big push this year is incorporating more STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities into the summer reading programming.

Good Vibrations with Science Central Wednesday, June 13 and the STEAM stations Saturday, June 23 are two examples of what Jones said is an opportunity to keep kids learning over the summer and pique kids' interest in those fields.

Meijer, Wendy's and several local businesses have donated prizes for the summer reading program. Smaller prizes are drawn at the end of every week and Grand Prizes, including bikes donated by Meijer, will be drawn at the end-of-program party on Friday, July 27.